CU Health Plan wants smokers to breathe easy

Beginning Oct. 1, there’s more help for those looking to snuff out habit

CU Health Plan wants smokers to breathe easyHelp with quitting smoking is the latest addition to the health and wellness toolkit for members of the CU Health Plan.

Starting Oct. 1, CU Health Plan members will have full, covered access to the CU Health Plan – Breathe With Quitline, a smoking-cessation program that combines personalized coaching sessions with an eight-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), including certain prescribed medications. Breathe With Quitline participants work through their addictions with coaches and, eventually, commit to a quit date, at which point coaches will order NRT.

The coaching sessions — phone calls with professionally trained counselors — are Breathe With Quitline’s emotionally connected selling point. From their large office in south Denver, counselors make and take hundreds of calls each day. The conversations—around cigarette cravings, willpower, setbacks and downright breakdowns—are peppered with sincere concern, helpful guidance and the occasional lighthearted joke.

There’s no set script for these coaching sessions, says Hilary Baca, client relationship manager for National Jewish Health, which runs employer programs across the country. Instead, Breathe With Quitline coaches use motivational interviewing techniques to help smokers move through the sessions at their own pace. Similarly, coaches will only order nicotine replacement therapy for participants when they’ve verbally committed to quit smoking.

CU-Boulder goes smoke-free this week

Breathe With Quitline is the latest in a stream of programs available to CU Health Plan members who want help kicking their smoking and/or tobacco habits. And for smoke-free advocates at the University of Colorado Boulder, which marked the official launch of its smoke-free policy on Monday — these additional smoking-cessation resources will be a key component of the policy’s effectiveness.

The Boulder campus’s smoke-free policy provides smokers a timeline for gradually quitting through its designation of a handful of temporary, on-campus smoking areas, says Louise Vale, vice chancellor for administration. The policy covers all products that emit smoke, as well as electronic cigarettes. Members of the committee that created the policy hope to one day adopt a more rigorous tobacco-free policy.

For now, proactive campus staff members are providing resources to help the 8 percent of CU-Boulder students and the yet-to-be-tallied amount of employees who smoke to kick their habits. Robin Kolble, community health manager at the Wardenburg Health Center, helped create smoking-cessation kits (squeezable stress balls, candy, gum, toothpicks, etc.), which they’ve been handing out to employees and students since spring. Janeen Haller-Abernethy, member of the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP), used a grant from the Colorado Health Department to run smoking-cessation workshops. The efforts will continue throughout the year.

Now, with the addition of the Breathe With Quitline program, Boulder campus employees on the CU Health Plan have double the support to give smoking the boot, whether attending Haller Abernethy’s campus support groups or picking up the phone and asking a Breathe With Quitline representative for help.

Help is here if you need it

Breathe With Quitline for CU Health Plan members launches Oct. 1. Find updates as the launch approaches at www.anthem/cuhealthplan and http://my.kaiserpermanente.org/universityofcolorado.

Use these other resources, covered by each specified employer, to help in your quest to quit smoking:

  • University of Colorado Boulder Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)
    11 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday
    Administrative Research Center
    CU-Boulder East Campus
    3100 Marine St., Room A353 (third floor)
    Phone: 303-492-3020
    Email: Yee.Chan@colorado.edu
    http://hr.colorado.edu/fsap/Pages/default.aspx
    Get free, confidential counseling and consultation from licensed counselors and psychologists who can refer you to further resources.
  • Colorado State Employee Assistance Program (for University of Colorado Denver l Anschutz Medical Campus employees)
    8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
    Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration
    633 17th St., Suite 1520
    Denver 80202
    Phone: 303-866-4314; 1-800-821-8154
    http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DPA-EO/DEO/1214905946179
    Take advantage of free, confidential, short-term counseling, by phone or in person.
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